Computers, Cell Phones, & Other Electronic Gadgets

It was still impressive for late 70s hardware, the dedicated chessboard I have from 1988 was not that much faster, still a few seconds for the easy levels but instead of hours it was about 20 minutes for the hardest level.

Atari 2600 had a 6507 processor running at about 1 MHz (really 0.3) and 128 bytes of ram.

The chessboard I got in 88 had a 6502 running at 3 MHz but 8 KB of ram.

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For anyone playing at home, the quoted text takes up 161 bytes (128 bytes is if you stop after “6502”). I’m amazed you could do anything with a 2600. I had a 7800, which at least had 4KB RAM. (And then I had exactly two 7800 games and a bunch of 2600 games, because it was backward compatible.)

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If you look closely at that Atari 2600 Video Chess screenshot, there are a lot of lines.

Again, another explanation of that from the game’s entry on AtariProtos.com:

This is because of a special trick created by Bob Whitehead to display more than six sprites per line (which wouldn’t have been enough for Chess). This trick called “Venetian Blinds” allowed the 2600 to display up to eight sprites per row (instead of the normal six) by alternating them between two sets of scanlines (four on one set of scanlines, and four on the other). It was the development of this trick that made a Chess program on the 2600 possible.

Source: AtariProtos.com - All Your Protos Are Belong To Us!

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The Atari 2600 got its own backgammon game in 1979 simply called “Backgammon”!

Backgammon is one of the oldest games in existence dating back to antiquity. This game was also one of the first backgammon adaptations to the medium. This one however isn’t a game I’m familiar with; I tried backgammon a few times and couldn’t figure it out!

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Most of the games all you needed to store in ram were things like counters for lives remaining, level being played, enemies remaining in that level, etc., so not a lot of bytes needed. Unlike today where games are transferred into ram, the games actually ran off the roms in the cartridge. Of course by today’s standards those roms are tiny at 4, 8, 16 or 32 KB. There was one cartridge released that was 64K, the largest that could be read by the 6507 processor.

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I haven’t played in many years, it’s got an odd mix of chance and skill, a mix of chess and checkers, you can knock the other players pieces off but they can be put back if the number on a die is an open space on the board.

And there’s gambling mixed in if you use the doubling cube, I think? I seem to have forgotten most of the rules.

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Acey Duecy is easier

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More Atari items but this one was unreleased. It’s the Atari Mindlink originally planned for 1984 but wisely cancelled.

Atari_2600_exhibit_(Mindlink)

Atari claimed this controller could read your mind. Yeah…it didn’t. It basically read your facial movements and muscle twitches. Groucho Marx would have been great at this game!

Only one game was planned for it called Bionic Breakthrough; more details here - AtariProtos.com - All Your Protos Are Belong To Us!

I hear people testing the device got headaches when the games got too fast. One account claims the controller slipped off someone’s forehead and broke when it hit the ground.

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I like backgammon a lot, but I don’t like using the doubling cube.

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Doubling is the tricky part of the game. Which moves to make for which numbers come up is fairly simple to understand. If it’s just that, the game would be just luck. But most time, by somewhere about the middle of the game, it’s clear who will win. Picking the right time to double, when you’ll win, but your opponent thinks they have a chance is tricky.

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I’m troubleshooting an issue with cloning brand new SATA SSDs. Read/write errors are unheard of these days, especially with SSDs, so I was shocked to see one during the process. I’m amused at the notion of “sectors” on an SSD, but even moreso at the quantity of errors! I let it run for a bit to see if it would recover: helpful in knowing if it’s truly a drive issue or something else. After 5-10 minutes there were 34 million write errors. LOL. I remember when ONE error was enough to keep a drive busy for a few minutes.

I suspect a cable issue and not a problem with the drive, testing it again now. I like SATA cables with locking clips, but some connectors having nothing for the clips to … clip on to.

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I would not use a new drive with that many write errors, might have a faulty chip. If it’s a name brand download the utility software from the company and run a bunch of diagnostics. I usually use the company software to set the overprovisioning a little higher than standard but not sure that is needed with how much more reliable SSDs are these days.

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It was the cable. Or rather, the connection. A wild confluence of events actually: it’s a 2.5" SSD, in a cold-swap tray that snaps into a caddy in a 5.25" bay. I’d overtightened the mounting screws, which stressed the caddy tray, which ever-so-slightly warped the PCB with the backside SATA connector, which was slowly pushing the SATA cable out of its socket.

I swapped the whole caddy/tray with a new one, and new cables, then re-ran the procedure and it worked with zero errors. 40 years of doing this stuff and I still struggle with overtightening things. :joy:

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For screws attaching plastic parts or going into plastic threads I always try to use the smallest screwdriver that will work, because I have the same problem with over torquing.

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It’s possible that you’re both simply too huge and powerful for mortal screws.

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It’s a pity that good adjustable torque-drivers are so expensive. You can easily spend a couple of hundred dollars on one.

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Anyone have any experience scanning slides, either yourself or via a service? I’ve got 500 or so family photo slides that I rescued from a box in an attic, some are older than me and are showing it.

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I don’t think I’ve scanned slides, but I have scanned photo negatives – you know, the actual strips of film. Basically the same thing except for the frame on the slides. If you’ve got a flatbed scanner, it should be up to the task. Not sure if the depth of the frame will cause focusing issues; you might need to snap each one out of the frame, then of course arrange a bunch of them on the scanner bed.

I prize my 15+ year old dedicated flatbed scanner, it can do something like 2400dpi, maybe more, which is plenty to make a slide/negative into a useable size. My Brother laser printer has a flatbed scanner as well, but I’ve never used it.

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I’ve got a scanner in a box somewhere, it is of dubious operability. I just don’t know if that’s the way to go, especially 500 times.

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